Therapy saved my life.….
Growing up I was sexually abused by my father. My biological father. From when I was old enough to realize that a grave injustice had been done to me, I really struggled with that realisation. Our parents are supposed to be the people who protect us from all the evils of the world. So what happens when it is your own parent who commits such a great evil on you? How do you cope with such a supreme betrayal?
For years I used unhealthy ways to cope with my trauma. I drank too much, treated the people in my life badly from time to time, and more often than not I let my negative emotions get the best of me. One day at 17 I took a knife to the bathroom and cut up my arms. I was so devoid of emotions and I just needed to feel something.
Approximately 12 years after that night I decided enough is enough. I no longer wanted to be held prisoner to my past by a man whose life was moving forward. So I entered therapy as step one of healing from such an enormous trauma.
It was not easy. Therapy is hard work. You will have to face facts/situations/truths that may cause you great pain. Some days you will open up old wounds that you thought had healed. Spoiler alert, they had not healed at all. You had merely placed bandages over them and unbeknownst to you the wounds had festered and were seeping into your life.
The nine months of therapy I did saved my life and I do not say that lightly or with exaggeration. I no longer want to die. I no longer get disproportionately angry with my loved ones for things that do not matter. I no longer use alcohol as a painkiller. I no longer see myself as a victim. I am a survivor. Therapy helped me see that while my anger is justified it is not more justified than my happiness. Now I am committed to living life as fully as I can.
This is not to say I am completely fixed. I do not think any amount of therapy will heal my trauma 100% because no matter what I can never forget the past. I am still a work in progress and I might always be one. But I am definitely better at processing my emotions and I now use healthy outlets to deal with the trauma. I obviously still have days when I am down, but therapy equipped me with the tools necessary to cope with my trauma better. For instance I now know what to do when I am struggling with flashbacks of the abuse.
To anyone considering therapy I would urge you to give it a try. Just know that, as Kendi told me, it may get harder before it gets easier. But if you keep an open mind and really commit to doing the work, you can only get better with time.